Holcomb, officials support peaceful protests but concerned about virus spread

Coronavirus

Note: Due to technical difficulties, the complete video briefing for Wednesday, June 3. was not captured.

INDIANAPOLIS — During Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb encouraged Hoosiers to recall Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech made on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

“Read it, and listen to it again, it will help us guide through this moment in history,” Holcomb said. Holcomb made the remarks as protests continue in Indiana and across the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

Holcomb began Wednesday’s virtual press conference by thanking the peaceful protesters “who seek to strengthen the fabric of our state.” He said we owe them our attention to and our action.

The governor was joined by other state officials, including Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, State Health Commissioner Kristina Box and Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Jennifer Sullivan.

Holcomb and Dr. Box restated the importance of the Fairbanks COVID-19 statewide sampling study, of which the second round of testing started today, and encouraged Hooisers to participate if they are contacted.

Dr. Box recounted the state’s latest coronavirus numbers, as reported by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) on Wednesday. 

ISDH reported 511 new coronavirus cases between April 24 and June 2 and 10 additional deaths between May 29 and June 2, bringing the statewide totals to 35,712 and 2,032 respectively. Marion County has now seen more than 10,000 positive cases. 

Dr. Box said she was concerned about protests and the potential of spreading the coronavirus and possibly seeing a spike in the state’s case numbers.

“Of course I’m concerned,” she said. “Please take precautions as you are gathering.”

Dr. Dan Rusyniak, Chief Medical Officer for Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) spoke about recent discrepancies in COVID-19 reporting in long-term care facilities.

Dr. Rusyniak said FSSA is looking into these discrepancies. “Our focus for long-term care facilities has been how to prevent and mitigate outbreaks,” he said.

According to Dr. Rusyniak the state deployed strike teams, surveyors went to facilities early, and Indiana recognized there were outbreaks that occurred that we didn’t hear about until later. He said that is why, on April 10, the state ruled that all long-term care facilities would have to report cases within 24 hours.

“CMS has acknowledged that the data in the systems is unlikely to align with the states’ data because of the way they are counted,” Rusyniak said.

He said there are now guidelines for visitors and restrictions are not without consequences. He added that isolation has had a serious impact and technology like facetime calls cannot substitute an in-person visit.

Dr. Rusyniak said transmission risks are much lower outdoors, and the risk of coronavirus and the need for family interactions at these facilities can be balanced, and the state will soon be releasing guidelines for outdoor visitations.

“We are working on a timeline so that everyone can visit those they love without a restriction,” said Rusyniak.

Holcomb signed Executive Order 20-30 Wednesday to extend the public health emergency for an additional 30 days to July 4th. 

The Governor also signed Executive Order 20-31 which allows older youth to remain in foster care beyond the age of 18 for the duration of the public health emergency. This will allow them to continue to receive education, workforce training and health benefits.

This order also extends the time period to renew professional licenses, certificates or permits to June 30. For complete details on Governor Holcomb’s orders signed Wednesday, click here.

Indiana remains in Stage 3 of Holcomb’s “Back on Track Indiana Plan.” Stage 4 isn’t expected to start until June 14.

On Wednesday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 511 new coronavirus cases between April 24 and June 2 and 10 additional deaths between May 29 and June 2, bringing the statewide totals to 35,712 and 2,032 respectively. Marion County has now seen more than 10,000 positive cases.

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